This post was written by Keil Corey ’19
On May 10 I walked into Kalkin Hall, mentally rehearsing the practicum pitch I would present that afternoon. As I entered the building that had been my second home for the last nine months, it dawned on me that this was the end of nine-month, 45 credit-hours, academic sprint, most of which was spent this building. My nerves quieted and I felt deep appreciation for what I had accomplished up to that point. It’s hard to overstate the amount of time, effort, and determination that was required to get to where my classmates and I now stood. Looking around the room, I saw people that not so long ago had been strangers. But that day I saw 40 friends that shared a common bond born of shared struggle, successes, personal and professional growth, and way too many hours together. These are the kinds of people you want on your team and I’d support them in any way possible in the years ahead. And the best part, I knew the feeling was mutual.
With my presentation scheduled for later in the afternoon, I took a mental note to really take in the day and be present for my classmates’ presentations, something easily forgotten when you’ve seen the same people collectively present around 100 times. And boy I’m glad I did. Kicking off the day, the Ashoka team presented their plan to turn support services for social entrepreneurs into a financially sustainable business model. And with that we were off and running.
With not a small amount of jealously, I listened to my classmates present plans to address an array of complex issues: using cover cropping to address pollution and financial challenges associated with Vermont’s dairy industry with Ben & Jerry’s; creating a closed-loop business model for Burton’s soft goods; addressing legal and environmental implications of 3D printing with the Environmental Law Institute; transforming Interface into a carbon negative company; creating an emerging market strategy to help Just Foods address malnutrition; building the business plan and securing financing for Green Man Acres, a regenerative, diversified student-owned Vermont farm; reducing the environmental footprint of the outdoor adventure travel industry with REI; building niche market demand for artisanal Manchaha rugs through storytelling with Jaipur Rugs; creating a business tool to identify blockchain applications with Resonance; developing policies and strategy to incorporate environmental, social, and governance criteria into the investing strategy of the FIS Group; developing a smart phone application for checking the environmental footprint of consumer purchases through a student-designed entrepreneurial venture called Karma Score; and removing plastic packaging from packaged goods at Seventh Generation. As my turn to present got closer, as usual, I had to turn up the mental pep talk to prepare myself to meet the high bar set by this intrepid cohort of MBAs. To that end, my partner and I presented our plan to develop an emerging market strategy to drive demand for mobile network services in rural areas, working with Vanu in Rwanda.
With the day drawing to a close, a bittersweet relief settled in. Our coursework was done, but so was our time all together. There’s no doubt the bonds that have been forged this year will remain far into the future. I feel lucky to have spent these last nine months with these extraordinary individuals and can’t wait to see the final results of these projects in August, and the accomplishments, successes, and positive impacts this cohort will have as they embark on their careers after graduation. Now, let the practicum work begin!